Of the players on the active roster in the playoffs, seven are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1 while another two will be restricted free agents. General Manager George McPhee will have many decisions to make, though he wouldn’t comment specifically on any changes that he was considering.
“In my own mind, I know, and I could see it during the series and all through the playoffs what I want to do for next season, and it's crazy, even during games, I'm writing down lineups for next year based on the way things are going, the way people are playing and what we have in our organization,” McPhee said, declining to expand too much further.
“There's a certain place I want to get to with the team and I think we have it within our organization to get there,” McPhee added. “I don't think we have to go outside the organization, which is nice. So I want to spend more time talking to our scouts about that and what they've seen in our young players this year. But we've really got some good ones, real difference makers. And that's something we'll sort through in the next few months.”
Here’s a breakdown of the players set to become free agents and what they earned in the 2010-11 season:
Jason Arnott, UFA, $4.5 million
The Capitals acquired the 36-year-old center at the trade deadline, and while he provided valuable leadership down the stretch, he also struggled – as did many players – against Tampa Bay and only recorded three points in that series.
“It definitely would be my first choice to come back and try to win here,” Arnott said Thursday after his exit interview.
Brooks Laich, UFA, $2,066,667
After six years in Washington, Laich could be highly sought after in what is considered a relatively shallow free agent pool this offseason. McPhee went as far as to say, “I don’t know that there’s a whole lot out there,” of the options available. Laich finished the year with 16 goals and 48 points in the regular season. It was also the first time in four years that his offensive production declined.
“Yeah, I haven’t thought a lot about that,” Laich said Thursday when asked if he wants to return. “The focus is obviously on trying to win the Stanley Cup. Just sit down with my agent and discuss what he has in mind. I haven’t talked to him, I haven’t talked to George. We haven’t talked about anything. Focused on winning.”
Matt Bradley, UFA, $1 million
The veteran winger spent six seasons with the Capitals. He’s become a fan favorite and is an effective fourth-line role player. With a growing number of younger players in the organization, like Jay Beagle, who could possibly fill that position in a more cost-effective manner, it’s tough to know if Bradley will fit in Washington’s future plans.
Boyd Gordon, UFA, $800,000
The longest-tenured Capital weathered some early injuries this season, including a staph infection in his toe, but his abilities as a penalty killer and faceoff specialist fit a specific need on the roster. When Washington traded away David Steckel, the team turned to Gordon to be the leader in draws, and he did just that.
Scott Hannan, UFA, $4.5 million
After arriving in early December via trade from the Colorado Avalanche, Hannan took on a role as a leader and was a steady presence as the Capitals suffered numerous injuries on the blueline. Occasionally in the playoffs, he was caught flat-footed or outworked in the corners, though.
“It’s a great group of guys here,” he said. “I’d love to be back. But we’ll see how things happen. It’s a long way. We’ll have to sit down with my family. Maybe we’ll talk to Washington here in the next little while.”
Marco Sturm, UFA, $3.5 million
Picked up off of waivers just ahead of the trade deadline, Sturm doesn’t make many glaring mistakes on the ice. At the same time, though, he didn’t always appear to fit in the Capitals’ lineup.
Sean Collins, UFA, $650,000
With Mike Green out of the lineup, Collins made his Stanley Cup playoff debut in Game 4 and didn’t have the best outing. Collins was the one who turned the puck over in the second period on the play that led to Sean Bergenheim’s first goal. That said, he fits well in Hershey and is someone Washington can recall if necessary.
Karl Alzner, RFA, $1.675 million
The former first-round draft pick became half of a heavily relied upon shut-down defensive pairing with John Carlson much faster than anyone expected. Alzner averaged 20 minutes per game in the regular season, most often skating against opposing teams’ top lines, and finished the year with a plus-14 rating.
“I’d love to [return],” Alzner said. “This team has still got a great chance, if everybody that’s here decides to come back and everyone sticks around, still has a great chance. With the playoffs and all that, we kinda have everything behind us.”
Semyon Varlamov, RFA, $821,667
The 23-year-old Russian’s final start this season was April 6 against Florida. Varlamov, who stole the spotlight in net each of the past two playoffs, never appeared in the Capitals’ recently-completed postseason run.
In March, Varlamov’s Russian agent said several KHL clubs are interested in the young goaltender, but that possibility didn’t seem to phase McPhee.
“If he wants to go to the KHL, let him go,” McPhee said Thursday. “This is the best league in the world and most players want to play here. I don't pay any attention to that stuff with any of the European players. If they want to go to Europe to play, go back to play. If that's what they do, then you've got the wrong guy.”